A teenage city council member in Alabama who had voted to end a mask mandate is encouraging residents to get vaccinated after he contracted Covid-19.

“I am going to get the vaccine after I’m cleared of the virus,” Hunter Pepper, 19, said Friday. Let’s stop the spread. Let’s all do our best to stop the spread. I urge everyone to get vaccinated. This is a virus that is tearing down everybody.”

The Decatur city councilman said he received two positive Covid-19 tests Wednesday and has dealt with uncomfortable symptoms, including labored breathing, fever, headaches, vomiting and a raspy cough. His condition was improving, he said, and he was now quarantining at his home.

” It felt like a train. He said, “It’s a horrible feeling.”

Decatur council voted in April to lift city’s mask mandate. Only one member voted to keep it, WAAY in Huntsville said. WAFF, the NBC affiliate in Huntsville, reported Pepper called the mask mandate “overreach.”

When asked Friday about the vote, he said he has never been against masks or vaccinations.

” I oppose putting on a fat label saying, “You’re required ….,'” to,” he stated. “Our country was built on freedom.”

Pepper was 18 earlier this year when he began the four-year term. Since he made the news public, he said that he has received many death threats. He said that he hopes his message encourages inoculations.

The highly contagious delta variant of Covid-19 has increased infection rates throughout the country and has hit Alabama particularly hard. Alabama has been at the bottom of the nation in terms of vaccination rates.

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Friday listed community transmission as high for the entire state, which has seen 13,048 Covid-19 deaths since 2020, including 5,867 in 2021.

Antonio Planas

Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

The Associated Press

contributed.

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